Be good or be made good

It was Henry David Thoreau who reminded us, "Be not simply good - be good for something". I am reminded today of what it means to be good - because I see around me lots of individuals who have allowed the creation of a rewarding and fulfilling life flow within their lives. How? By inviting Christ into their lives - not as a guest - but as the one to take control, guide their steps, and fill their lives with a totally different meaning than they had known. In short - they were made good - then they were made good for something! Apart from Christ, we can do 'good actions' and even have a little 'good intent' within our hearts. With Christ in control, our lives are more than just 'good actions' - they are good to the core.

Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life emerges! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)

If you look up the meaning of 'good', the first definition you are likely to come across is that of being morally excellent, virtuous, and righteous. That totally describes this exchange of character that occurs the moment we welcome Christ into our lives. We exchange our moral mediocrity for his moral excellence. We lay down our self-righteous actions - those 'good deeds' we have been doing in hopes it would make some difference in making us 'good individuals'. We embrace a new virtue that stems not from a hope of being good, but from the new root of goodness that has taken hold within us. In place of our attempting to be 'good' - we become good to the core - hear that one, my friends - it isn't about us anymore - it is about him IN us.

United with him - this is more than a mere acquaintance with him - it is an outright investment of our lives into the relationship we now enjoy. Yes, we begin by 'cooperating' with him in this new life, but eventually we are doing more than just 'cooperating'. We begin to sense and truly know that we are 'integrated' into his thoughts and actions. His thoughts are not must mingled with ours - they begin to bring the muddled ones to the surface so they can be removed - because they don't belong any longer. Our actions aren't just interspersed with his - they begin to be motivated by his heartbeat deep within us. In other words, we begin to not only 'be good' - we 'are good'. 

For someone who lived a whole lot of her growing up years 'being bad', this comes as a great comfort to my weary soul. Growing up you could not have told me I was 'good' or even had the potential of anyone considering me 'good'. Why? I had convinced myself no one really loved me the way I was - I needed to be something different than what I was. How foolish our minds can be when we begin to focus so intently on 'us' and not on 'him'. We think life is all about us and forget it is all about him. At that time, even though I was raised in church, I really didn't know him. I sought fulfillment in meaningless relationships, always seeking to be liked by someone - all the while not 'liking' myself at all. Imagine the conflict when I put myself out there to be 'liked' as 'good for something' in another's life and found my actions rejected. 

It was somewhere in my early adult years when I discovered the truth that my goodness was never what anyone needed - they needed the goodness of Christ in me to shine through. As I invited him into my life in my teens, his work began within my heart, changing it from 'me being good' to me being made good in him. I recall the day in Anchorage when I came to the reality that simply 'inviting him in' was not enough. I needed to allow him full and total control. I don't know about you, but there are times we think just 'having Jesus around' is enough, but until we make him the 'center of our attention' our actions won't really change. We won't think differently. We won't stop trying to 'be good' until we realize we are 'made good' in his presence - with him in control of our lives. Just sayin!

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